It's the most wonderful time of the year! World Cup season, of course. It all feels surreal, to be perched on World Cup eve waiting for the big day to arrive, but this is not a drill.


The Qatar World Cup is ready to dominate December with countless hours of live matches to be shown across BBC and ITV for free, and excitement is building ahead of the tournament.

England and Wales are the only home nations in action, reigning champions France are back for another tilt at glory, while South America looks primed and ready to roll in the desert. brings you the lowdown on every team at the World Cup 2022, including our predictions for how they will fare this time around.

For more World Cup features check out: World Cup 2022 TV schedule | World Cup 2022 kits ranked | World Cup 2022 stadiums | Best players at the World Cup | Best teams at the World Cup

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Group C

Key player: LIONEL MESSI
One to watch: JULIAN ALVAREZ
Most capped player in the squad: LIONEL MESSI (164)
Last World Cup: ROUND OF 16 (2018)

Argentina Lionel Messi

Argentina have boasted more star-studded squads in the past, but where did that get them? They have enjoyed an England-esque revolution in recent years, shedding some huge individuals but developing a real, cohesive unit.

Lionel Messi inspired his team to the Copa America title last year and demolished Euro 2020 champions Italy in the inaugural Finalissima in 2022.

Messi has enjoyed a blazing start to 2022/23 and boasts a streamlined supporting cast that simply knows how to operate as a functional team. Angel Di Maria remains one of the world's most under-appreciated footballers, while Man City prodigy Julian Alvarez is a real candidate for a breakout tournament.

We tipped Argentina to face Brazil in the semi-finals, which we believe would effectively become a proxy final. Winner takes all. Messi is on course to cap off his career with the biggest victory of his lifetime.

Prediction: WINNER

Read more - World Cup predictions: Winners, dark horses, flops, top scorer


Group D (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

Australia boast the second highest loss rate (63%) in World Cup finals tournaments in history after Saudi Arabia (69%).

The Aussies are not expected to improve their record by any significant measure this time around, but following their performance in the T20 World Cup, at least their fans will be accustomed to exiting at the group stage of a major tournament (AMIRIGHT?).

Prediction: Group stage


Group F

One to watch: JEREMY DOKU
Most capped player in the squad: JAN VERTONGHEN (141)
Last World Cup: SEMI-FINALS (2018)

The 'Golden Age' of Belgian football is fading. There's no shame in that, but it does feel like Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Eden Hazard are eight pints deep in the last-chance saloon if they are to lift a trophy with their national team.

That trio boasts 386 caps combined and so far haven't been replaced with obvious world-beaters. Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne remain deadly, with the latter arguably the most talented player going into this tournament not named 'Lionel'.

De Bruyne is yet to really have a career-defining 'moment' in a major international tournament considering his immense ability. If Belgium are to succeed this time around, he will need to be more central to that success than ever as the squad fades around him.

Prediction: Round of 16


Group F

Manager: TITE
Key player: NEYMAR
One to watch: RODRYGO
Most capped player in the squad: DANI ALVES (124)
Last World Cup: QUARTER-FINALS (2018)

England World Cup opponents predicted
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Highly, highly fancied. Brazil enter this World Cup as the favourites and they're coming into the tournament on the back of a 15-game undefeated streak.

Neymar is the main man, but an all-star supporting cast of Premier League superstars looks set to offer the Brazilians their best shot at lifting the trophy in many editions.

Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Antony have all made the cut. That's not to mention Vinicius Jr and Raphinha. The squad is so top-heavy that they've been forced to leave Roberto Firmino at home.

Making them all click together is another matter, but Tite appears to have cracked the code. They appear to be on course for a show-stopping collision with Argentina in the semi-finals – the one team who may be able to stop them.

Prediction: Semi-finals


Group G (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2014)

Cameroon have only won one World Cup finals game since 1990 despite featuring in five tournament finals since then.

They boasted the second-worst record of all 32 teams in 2010 and followed that up by posting the definitive worst record in 2014.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Vincent Aboubakar form a very handy front pair, but they are likely to be more effectively deployed in defence given the Brazilian onslaught they're about to face.

Prediction: Group stage


Group F (Last World Cup: Group stage – 1986)

Canada are back on the world stage for the first time in a generation and they will be determined to put forward a good account of themselves in Qatar.

They scored more and conceded fewer goals than any other team in the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying, buoyed by Club Brugge forward Cyle Larin and Lille ace Jonathan David racking up 11 goals between them.

Bayern Munich's rapid full-back Alphonso Davies is comfortably their star player and will be fit to play despite an injury scare. Canada are unlikely to progress but they could make plenty of friends along the way.

Prediction: Group stage

Costa Rica

Group E (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

Costa Rica became one of the last teams to qualify for the tournament after dispatching New Zealand in the inter-confederation play-offs.

They boast a topsy-turvy team filled with a combination of former Premier League players you thought had retired and youngsters itching to thrive in Europe.

Brian Oviedo, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell are all the 'wrong' side of 30, while 18-year-old Jewison Bennette, who became the country's youngest ever player in a World Cup qualifier, has recently signed for Sunderland in the Championship.

Prediction: Group stage


Group F

Key player: LUKA MODRIC
One to watch: JOSKO GVARDIOL
Most capped player in the squad: LUKA MODRIC (155)
Last World Cup: RUNNERS-UP (2018)

Croatia should be nowhere near the late stages of this tournament, yet they arrive in Qatar with a string of major scalps under their belt.

In their last five matches, Croatia have drawn with France and defeated them in Paris, toppled Denmark twice and took out Austria for good measure. They finished the Nations League group stage with the second-highest points total in League A, playing against the finest teams in Europe.

They are worth more than the sum of their parts. Luka Modric is back once more to purr his way through games at 37, while Ivan Perisic and most of the old guard remain. Maybe this is their last hurrah, but the results they've produced heading into this tournament should send a major warning to Belgium in Group F.

Prediction: Quarter-finals


Group D

Most capped player in the squad: SIMON KJAER (121)
Last World Cup: ROUND OF 16 (2018)

How many times does a team need to arrive at a major tournament as dark horses to simply be considered a very good football team?

The great Danes have progressed to the knockouts in four of their last five tournaments and reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals, proving their worth on the big stage.

Christian Eriksen is back in the squad and sure to receive a string of warm receptions, while Kasper Dolberg will hope to rediscover his goalscoring touch and youngster Andreas Skov Olsen will hope to prove himself at the top level.

Prediction: Round of 16


Group A (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2014)

A fresh, young Ecuador team arrive in Qatar, with a huge chunk of their squad not featuring in major finals before.

Ecuador aren't goal-shy. They enjoyed a big qualification campaign and racked up a personal best in terms of goals scored with 27 in 18 games, second only to Brazil.

It feels like a shoot-out between themselves and Senegal for the second qualification spot, though their opponents boast the edge in terms of experience.

Prediction: Group stage


Group B

Key player: HARRY KANE
Most capped player in the squad: RAHEEM STERLING
Last World Cup: SEMI-FINALS (2018)

Gareth Southgate.
Getty Images

Had England maintained their terrific form of 2021 that led to a Euro 2020 final appearance, expectations would have soared to unprecedented levels by this point.

However, Nations League relegation from the top tier and a string of mediocre performances have dampened expectations. There's an air of melancholy around England – and Gareth Southgate – despite obvious progress in recent years.

With Harry Kane up front, Jude Bellingham set to explode onto the world stage and a range of attacking stars on standby, England can beat any team in this tournament. Defensive frailty may cost them, though.

Prediction: Quarter-finals


Group D

Most capped player in the squad: HUGO LLORIS (139)
Last World Cup: WINNERS (2018)

No side has defended the World Cup trophy since Brazil in 1962. Maintaining momentum would cement this France side's position as one of the greatest dynasties in football history.

Kylian Mbappé boasts the star quality to get the job done, while Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema's return to the fold has been immensely profitable. It all looks rosy for France.

But this is France. Highly combustible, creaking at the seams, never far from controversy, bust-ups and a general circus sideshow catastrophe. Mbappe throwing his weight around at PSG may send a few tremors around the French squad, but if they hold their emotions together for the next month, they should go far.

Prediction: Runners-up


Group E

Key player: KAI HAVERTZ
One to watch: JAMAL MUSIALA
Most capped player in the squad: THOMAS MULLER (118)
Last World Cup: GROUP STAGE (2018)

Speaking entirely objectively, without bias, without tinted spectacles, seeing Germany slump to the foot of their group at the 2018 World Cup was a truly heartwarming sight to behold.

England fans wasted £6 on pints destined for the air, while German fans were forced to watch their team crumble to a humiliating exit. Poetry in motion. Art.

It would be premature to write off the Germans here, but their squad doesn't look particularly revitalised. Thomas Muller continues to linger, a fallen force, while 2014 World Cup final goalscorer Mario Gotze has been brought out of cryostasis for this tournament, highlighting the vulnerabilities in this squad. They should progress without trouble, but the Round of 16 will throw up a tough challenge.

Prediction: Round of 16


Group H (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2014)

Ghana's journey at this World Cup is unlikely to extend beyond the group stage, but their presence in Qatar is entirely made worthwhile by prospect of a grudge match to end all grudge matches against Uruguay.

The Black Stars were on the verge of becoming the first African nation to reach the World Cup semi-finals in 2010 when Luis Suarez pummelled the ball away with his hands to deny the Ghanaians an otherwise certain goal. Uruguay went on to win the tie on penalties and Suarez was immediately scribbled off Christmas card lists across Accra. To say the least.

It's tough to predict how Group H will go, but Ghana face Uruguay for the first time since that fateful evening in their last game of the World Cup 2022 group stage. It could even be a decider to qualify for the knockouts. Ghana remembers. Pass. The. Popcorn.

Prediction: Group stage


Group B (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

Five group stage appearances, five group stage exits. Iran are here for a good time, not a long time.

The Iranians are the top ranked team in Asia right now, so they shouldn't be completely ruled out from claiming points in Group B, but progression is almost certainly beyond their reach.

Prediction: Group stage


Group E (Last World Cup: Ro16 – 2018)

The most likely candidates to test Spain and Germany are the Japanese, but it would take an almighty series of events for them to progress.

Of the four Asian teams to qualify for the World Cup directly from the AFC groups, Japan actually recorded the lowest points tally, behind Saudi Arabia in their own group and Iran and South Korea in the other.

Expectations are low for a team who can keep a clean sheet – they conceded just four in 10 qualifier games – but lack star quality enough to succeed in Qatar.

Prediction: Group stage


Group C

One to watch: EDSON ALVAREZ
Most capped player in the squad: ANDRES GUARDADO (177)
Last World Cup: ROUND OF 16 (2018)

The Mexicans arrive in Qatar as experts in progression to the World Cup knockout rounds having achieved the feat in each of their last eight tournament finals.

Their remarkable run dates back to 1978, but the streak appears to be under threat in 2022. CONCACAF qualification was a fairly even contest this time around, with just four points separating Mexico from fifth-placed Panama.

Top goalscoring threat Raul Jimenez has been off form for Wolves since his severe head injury, and they lack a talisman capable of taking over from him. Mexico could be in trouble.

Prediction: Group stage


Group F (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

A relatively inexperienced Moroccan delegation will head to Qatar, though they do boast a sprinkling of star quality.

Achraf Hakimi is the big draw, though he won't be able to influence the games single-handedly from the full-back role.

Hakim Ziyech, Sofiane Boufal and Youssef En-Nesyri offer Morocco plenty of firepower up top if they can cope with the physicality of games against the likes of Croatia and Belgium, though they are not expected to seriously pinch a place from the group favourites.

Prediction: Group stage


Group A

One to watch: CODY GAKPO
Most capped player in the squad: DALEY BLIND (94)
Last World Cup: SEMI-FINALS (2014)

Welcome home, the Oranje! World Cups are simply better when having to adjust your TV set to avoid the Dutch kits scorching your eyesight.

The Netherlands, rejuvenated by Louis van Gaal, will aim to make the most of their return to the spotlight following a bleak period in their history.

Memphis Depay is roasting hot coming into this one with 12 goals in 10 qualification games. He also racked up the most assists in the team with six. The Netherlands mean business, though they won't have enough to truly challenge the elite.

Prediction: Quarter-finals


Group C (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

Robert Lewandowski
Getty Images

One-man nations rarely seem to perform well in the World Cup finals tournaments, but Poland will be hoping Robert Lewandowski's goalscoring is simply irresistible in Qatar.

The Barcelona man has found the net 18 times in 19 games for the Catalan giants, and recorded 13 goals and assists combined for Poland during their qualification campaign.

Expect the Poles to battle well for the second place in Group C.

Prediction: Round of 16


Group H

One to watch: NUNO MENDES
Most capped player in the squad: CRISTIANO RONALDO (191)
Last World Cup: ROUND OF 16 (2018)

Portugal boast a really poor record in World Cup finals, with just three wins in their last 14 matches, but they could be one of the most fortunate teams heading to Qatar based on their potential route to the final.

They are not fancied going into this World Cup with Cristiano Ronaldo coming in lukewarm (in terms of fitness, at least) while Bruno Fernandes has failed to recapture his finest form in recent months.

The last time Portugal were written off ahead of a major tournament, they scraped their way to winning Euro 2016. We think Uruguay could spring a surprise in Group H, leaving Portugal to face Brazil in the Round of 16. That clash would only go one way.

Prediction: Round of 16


Group A (Last World Cup: N/A)

Never say never. By virtue of being hosts, Qatar are placed in the weakest group of them all, and that gives them a chance.

Only one host nation has failed to advance from the group stages in World Cup history – South Africa in 2010.

In reality, despite efforts made to bolster Qatar's quality over the last decade to prepare for this moment, their adventure is likely to be a short one.

Prediction: Group stage

Saudi Arabia

Group C (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

Saudi Arabia have failed to score more than a single goal in a game during their last 16 outings against far inferior opposition to the ones they'll be facing in Qatar.

Of those 16 games, 12 finished with just one goal or less being scored. The Saudis will sit deep, compact, seek to frustrate their opponents... and still lose every match. Swift exit incoming.

Prediction: Group stage


Group A (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

Sadio Mane for Senegal
Sadio Mane for Senegal Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Senegal were dealt a major scare on the eve of the tournament with Sadio Mané suffering a late injury for Bayern Munich, but the nation's star player has been included in the squad.

Even if Mané isn't fully fit, the Africa Cup of Nations champions still boast a solid core of top Premier League players including captain Kalidou Koulibaly, while Ismaila Sarr will contribute plenty of attacking intent.

They are placed in a relatively weak group, and that should give them a chance of escaping to the knockouts where England likely lie in wait.

Prediction: Round of 16


Group G (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

Bubbling dark horses Serbia will be tipped by many to perform well here, mainly on the back of firebrand striker Aleksandar Mitrovic's form for both club and country.

The Fulham talisman has scored nine in 12 Premier League games for his club and notched six in five Nations League matches for Serbia. He is their diamond.

Dusan Tadic and Dusan Vlahovic are among the scattering of stars who break the mould in a Red Star-heavy squad. If they can produce a resilient display against Brazil before the Samba Boys get into their groove, many will sit up and take notice of the Serbs.

Prediction: Group stage

South Korea

Group H (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

South Korea have only won three of 27 World Cup games when not hosting the tournament but arrive in Qatar with relief in their hearts rather than major ambitions.

Son Heung Min suffered a fractured eye socket in four places following a collision in Tottenham's Champions League clash with Marseille last week. Korean dreams appeared shattered, but Son has been included in the squad following surgery.

He is likely to wear a mask should he prove his ability to play without too much discomfort. Korean fans won't expect too much in a tricky group, but seeing Son out there leading his nation will be enough for them – and neutrals tuning into their games.

Prediction: Group stage


Group E

Key player: PEDRI
One to watch: GAVI
Most capped player in the squad: SERGIO BUSQUETS (139)
Last World Cup: ROUND OF 16 (2018)

Ferran Torres
Getty Images

Spain must face the reality that, for now, they can't be considered one of the elite pack. The golden age of David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Xavi is over, consigned to the ever-maturing glory of the history books.

That isn't to say all hope is lost from a Spanish perspective. Luis Enrique is building a fresh core, with a number of typically stylish midfielders blossoming onto the world stage. Pedri and Gavi are ready.

Those teenage superstars, impeccably paired with Sergio Busquets, will form a slick unit in the midfield engine room. Alvaro Morata leads the line in this Spanish side, a concern for their ambitions of truly going deep into this tournament, but there are shoots of optimism.

Prediction: Quarter-finals


Group G

Key player: GRANIT XHAKA
One to watch: NOAH OKAFOR
Most capped player in the squad: XHERDAN SHAQIRI (108)
Last World Cup: ROUND OF 16 (2018)

Perennial 'organised, awkward team to play' Switzerland are back for another run at qualifying for the knockout rounds in second place.

The Swiss are one of just three European teams to reach the Round of 16 in each of their last four major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships). They simply know how to get it done.

They even threatened to go all the way at Euro 2020 after defeating hot favourites France on penalties following a 3-3 thriller before being knocked out by Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals. The Swiss are one of the ultimate major tournament teams to be wary of.

Prediction: Round of 16


Group D (Last World Cup: Group stage – 2018)

A campaign to attract dual-nationality stars to play for Tunisia is their big hope for this World Cup.

The squad is mostly made up of the same players who failed to make waves in 2018, including former Premier League star Wahbi Khazri.

Tunisia rarely lose games to inferior opposition but finding a way through the big boys remains a tough ask.

Prediction: Group stage


Group H

One to watch: MANUEL UGARTE
Most capped player in the squad: DIEGO GODIN (159)
Last World Cup: QUARTER-FINALS (2018)

Keep your eyes firmly on Uruguay, who look rigged to blow with an explosive frontline in prospect. Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Darwin Nunez offer grit, nous and the determination to chomp their way through any team in their path.

Real Madrid's Federico Valverde is also included, but their game-changer could be Rodrigo Bentancur, who has proven to be one of the signings of the season at Tottenham.

If Uruguay win their group, they have a genuine shot at running all the way to the semi-finals. However, should they finish behind Portugal, they are likely to be tossed aside by Brazil in the Round of 16. It's a tough old tournament, this one.

Prediction: Semi-finals


Group B

Most capped player in the squad: DEANDRE YEDLIN
Last World Cup: ROUND OF 16 (2014)

The USMNT return to the World Cup with a squad bristling with young talents making names for themselves in Europe.

The likes of Sergino Dest, Giovanni Reyna and Brenden Aaronson are just a few of the players showcasing their talents on big, big stages. Christian Pulisic boasts obvious talent, Weston McKennie too.

The US boast a really solid chance of qualification here with the class of '22 set to announce their nation as a growing force on the world stage.

Prediction: Round of 16


Group B

Manager: ROB PAGE
Key player: GARETH BALE
One to watch: RUBIN COLWILL
Most capped player in the squad: CHRIS GUNTER
Last World Cup: QUARTER-FINALS (1958)

Wales fixtures on TV
Getty Images

Welsh fans under the age of 64 have never seen what they're about to see: their men's national team involved in a World Cup finals tournament.

Many will point to Wales' Euro 2016 heroics as cause for optimism after they reached the semi-finals, but most of that team has departed, and two remaining members called up to the 2022 squad, Jonny Williams and Chris Gunter, are plying their trade in League Two.

Gareth Bale is fit though he has hardly set fire to the MLS, though Nottingham Forest star Brennan Johnson and Kieffer Moore could each prove to be a nuisance. This group is not inescapable, but the odds are against Cymru.

Prediction: Group stage

Check out our World Cup hub for all the latest from Qatar 2022, including match previews, predictions and analysis.

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